Category : My Tournaments

Reykjavik Open 2014 – The Norwegian Invasion (Round 5)

I know that the Norwegians were the first settlers of Iceland, but I never expected there will be an invasion during the tournament and I’ll only be playing them! Except when I played the girl in Round 3, all the other players were Norwegian!

Today was a deja-vu, another resilient kid, another long, 5-hour grinding game, 71 moves this time, instead of the 70 in Round 2. The only difference was that I didn’t manage to win. I liked how I played, I made something out of nothing in the Catalan, got a winning position, but in spite of the several wins pointed out by the computer, they were not that obvious during the game. So a draw. Frustrating.

Tomorrow’s game is at 1pm, so less time for everything. Hence, just a short entry now. And guess who I’m playing tomorrow? Yep, another Norwegian!

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Reykjavik Open 2014 – The Golden Circle (instead of Round 4)

After yesterday’s toil I decided to take a bye today and go on a tour around the country, the famous Golden Circle Tour.

The weather promised to be nice,

but as they say here, if you don’t like the weather, just be patient for 5 minutes, it will change. And so it did, before long we had the usual charming Icelandic weather:

The first stop was the Rift Valley, Thingvellir, which separates the American and European tectonic plates. It was here where the Vikings held their assemblies back in the 10th century. The following photo was shot from the American plate looking over the parliament fields:

We then walked downwards into the valley

into the tectonic no-man’s land and from there I took a photo of the American tectonic plate

Several kilometers separate the tectonic plates and because of the weather the European plate wasn’t visible. But what was visible were the coins that people throw for good luck in the springs and rivers that flow in this area (we were told this custom was started by a Danish king).

The next stop was the Gullfoss waterfall. The sight was spectacular:

And even the sun decided to come out:

But you haven’t been to Iceland if you haven’t seen a geysir erupt:

This happens every 5-7 minutes. A great thing to see, but the other, non-erupting geysirs were no less interesting.

Since this was a tour for chessplayers, the inevitable last stop was the Bobby Fischer Centre and his final resting place in Selfoss.

The centre was a bit of a letdown, at least for a Fischer-fanatic like myself. But I was told that this is a centre run by volunteers and is still in its early stages (it didn’t even exist last year). What I found interesting were a couple of rare photographs and a scrapbook of Icelandic newspapers from the famous match.

The surprise was the presence (he drove from Reykjavik for the occasion) and the short speech by the former president of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Gudmundur Thorarinson, the man who was head of the federation during the match in Reykjavik in 1972 and one of the members of the RJF group that managed to get Fischer out of Japanese custody. He gave a brief resume of the events around the match and Fischer’s life in Iceland.

The final stop was Bobby Fischer’s final resting place. After my visit of Alekhine’s grave in Paris in 2004, followed by Capablanca’s in Havana in 2005, this is the third world champion I paid tribute to.

After this we returned to Reykjavik, just in time for the round. It was a pleasant journey through a country that’s so unique in every possible aspect. But today the touristic part of the tournament finishes and from tomorrow it’s back to the old routine of preparation and play (ad infinitum). Six rounds to go and all to play for.

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Reykjavik Open 2014 – FIRE IN THE HOUSE! (Rounds 2&3)

Today was one of those exhausting, double-round days. The first game started at 9.30am. I played a resilient Norwegian kid (aren’t they all), from the U16 category. So naturally I followed Carlsen’s white play from his rapid game with Nakamura, from the Zurich tournament, but the kid deviated on move 7. I got a pleasant position and after some hour and a half, all of a sudden, the loudspeaker in the Harpa announced something in Icelandic, followed by “MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! THERE IS FIRE IN THE HOUSE! PLEASE EVACUATE THE BUILDING!” The clocks were stopped immediately, everybody got outside.

After approximately 1 minute, we were told we can go back in and continue. So we got back inside and played exactly 1 move, when we were told we should go out again.

This time the break was some 15-20 minutes. Eventually we returned to the hall and resumed play. Luckily these disturbances didn’t affect my play and I won a nice technical game, albeit a very long one, lasting 5 hours and 70 moves.

This was the first time in my career that a play had been interrupted because of a fire. Back in 2005 in Santiago de Cuba there were interruptions because of power cuts, but never because of fire! Later on I understood that there actually was some fire in the building (and it wasn’t a drill as I assumed), but I never saw any fire brigades or commotion or panic. I guess people are naturally cool in Iceland.

Due to all this, the afternoon game started at 5pm, instead of the scheduled 4.30pm. I was very tired from the morning game and due to the time constraint I couldn’t prepare properly. I was surprised that Jovana Vojinovic (WGM, 2323) entered the Benoni (something that she had almost never done before) and I couldn’t recall my analysis. I messed things up pretty badly and was lucky she accepted my draw offer on move 16. So 1.5/2 in one day isn’t bad at all.

The main upset in the third round was Naiditsch’s loss to Ezat (the guy who sacrificed a queen and tortured Kramnik in the last round of the World Teams).

These double-round days are the plague of modern open tournaments, they take away so much energy that now what’s important is to get rest and get back on track. Looking forward to some sleep!

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Reykjavik Open 2014 – First Impressions

I arrived late last night in Reykjavik. The bus took me from the airport to the hotel driving through the lava fields on an empty motorway. The feeling was one of calm.

After getting a good night sleep today I got a chance to take a stroll through the city. The first thing that struck me was the lack of traffic. Naturally, there are cars, but I had the sensation that it’s pretty empty on the streets, probably that’s why they cross them wherever they please. When in Rome, do as Romans do, so I followed suit.

One street I crossed was this one:

I wonder how many Jesus Streets there are in the world.

Following the street of their main God, I reached the Cathedral:

It’s pretty impressive on the outside and very simple on the inside:

And they use crystal to keep the Holy water. Unfortunately, it was empty:

It was time to go the playing hall to register, so I started in that direction. The first thing I saw when I exited the Cathedral was this:

I suppose they opened it for the lovers of the film Thor. But by now I realised they were very fond of their Gods, even the nastier ones.

Further downwards I encountered The Pond. I couldn’t help but wonder whether Tchaikovsky had been to Reykjavik:

One pair of swans was very much in love:

I had to leave them and continued to the playing hall called Harpa, the concert hall and conference centre of the city:

It is equally impressive on the inside:

Eventually I registered with the organiser and at 4pm was the opening ceremony, followed by Round 1. I won rather easily against a weaker opponent. Tomorrow is a double-round day, so it will be tough.

Time to rest now. More stuff from the north when I get more time in the following days.

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Традиционален брзопотезен турнир на Алкалоид

Како и што најавив во постот за моите следни настапи, денес играв на традиционалниот брзопотезен турнир во организација на шаховскиот клуб Алкалоид.

Се чини дека турнирот со секоја година зема се поголем замав – денес учествуваа 130 шахисти од 6 федерации, од кои 8 велемајстори и 19 играчи со други меѓународни титули. Масовноста е секако за поздравување, тоа само говори дека на Скопје му фалат ваков вид шаховски збиднувања. Вакви настани се ретка прилика шахистите да се најдат на едно место, да разменат мислења, да се дружат и да продискутираат за последните шаховски и нешаховски новости. Но, масовноста од друга страна носи и одредени проблеми кои се огледаа во неефикасноста со парувањето, главно заради конфузијата што се создаваше на последните табли и пријавувањето на резултатите – инвентивните шахисти веќе по второто коло во кулоарите предлагаа алтернативи како играње во помали групи или дури квалификационен турнир за послабите категории.

Победник на турнирот беше гостинот од Бугарија, велемајсторот Кирил Георгиев со импресивни 12/13. Загуби една партија, од Трајко Недев во 5. коло, но потоа до крај ги доби сите партии, вклучувајќи ја и победата против мене во 9. коло (фина техничка партија во ретка варијанта на Нимцо-индијска одбрана). Кога му честитав на победата на турнирот Киро се пожали дека порано играл подобро, дека квалитетот на партиите му бил повисок. Веројатно самиот си знае најдобро, но кога му кажав дека веројатно сега резултатот му е подобар, само се насмеа и не можеше да не се согласи со тој факт!

На делбата на 2 и 3. место се најдоа гостинот од Србија, велемајсторот Миљковиќ и нашиот Недев со 10/13, цели 2 поени зад победникот. Трајко имаше одличен турнир и беше единствениот кој држеше чекор со Георгиев, но неочекувано во претпоследното коло загуби од Младеновиќ (со рејтинг 2188!) и со среќното реми во последното коло против Панчевски успеа да се задржи на врвот.

На 4. место заврши Панчевски, со 9.5/13. Почна несигурно, со 2/3 и 3/5, но потоа како да влезе во ритам и да ја добиеше последната партија против Недев (а беше добиен) резултатот ќе му беше уште подобар.

Јас го поделив 5-13. место, со 9/13 и бев 6. по Бухолц. Сосема солиден резултат, играв како што и треба да се игра цугер, со рака, пробав некои варијанти и главната цел ми беше да добијам малку рутина пред настапот во Рејкјавик. Колку успеав, ќе видиме наскоро!

Комплетната табела можете да ја погледнете тука: http://www.chess-results.com/tnr123762.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=13&turdet=YES&flag=30&wi=984

Турнирот несомнено може да се прогласи за успешен, Алкалоид ја продолжува традицијата на организација на турнири и на тој начин го одржува активен шаховскиот живот во Македонија. Љубителите на шахот сигурно би сакале вакви настани да има почесто, но важно е и тоа што кога ги има, тие се квалитетни и добро организирани.

Следен настан на македонската шаховска сцена е Опен Карпош. Турнирот ветува да биде најуспешен до сега, а настап планираат скоро сите македонски шахисти. Да се надеваме дека тој настап ќе биде успешен!

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Coming Up Next: My Schedule

After the long winter break I’m hitting the road again, just like Jack. But before that I’ll warm up at the traditional blitz tournament organised by my club Alkaloid this Saturday at Hotel Continental. Blitz is always fun so it should be a time nicely spent in a friendly atmosphere.

After the blitz it’s show time in Reykjavik. It will be my first visit to this Nordic country and the first time I play in one of the world’s most famous open tournaments. Apart from being famous, it is also one of the strongest open tournaments in the world, so far there are 263 registered participants with 27 GMs. You can see the complete list here http://www.reykjavikopen.com/info/participants/

After the apalling showing at the 4NCL I hope to do better, but I do not have any high hopes, my aim will be to show better play. It will be good to see that all the work I put in during the winter hasn’t gone in vain.

I will try to post from Reykjavik, but this will obviously depend on the internet access. The organisers say that Garry Kasparov will visit the tournament for 2 days, so that should be interesting, too. There are many side events during the tournament, one being the famous Golden Circle tour, but this time specially tailored for chess players, as it includes visit to the resting place of Bobby Fischer.

Looks like exciting times are ahead! Forward and upwards!

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4NCL Rounds 5 and 6

It’s pretty late (2.15am) in London and my bus to Victoria is at 4am, followed by an hour-trip to the airport and a flight at 8.45am. I didn’t sleep much today as I had to play at 11am, so it was a long day. But let’s start from the beginning.

They say there’s always a first time for everything and this weekend was a first timer for me as well. Alas, it was not a pleasant first-time experience. I have played in many leagues and I had never lost two games over a weekend. This time it happened.

In round 5 my team Cheddleton played against Blackthorne Russia and we were the favourites to win. Win we did, but only yours truly spoiled it a bit as the only one to lose a game. I played black against the solid IM Richard Bates, who always plays the Catalan. I chose a modern and risky gambit line and obtained a good and complex position, only to start spoiling it with every subsequent move. My thoughts lacked clarity and I was feeling as if my head was full of fog. Possibly all because of the longer lay off from practical play?! My opponent played well and even though I resisted until move 55, I never had a chance.

The round 6 was the big derby against Guildford. We were equal on match points so the winner of the match would win the Pool A with a round to go. It’s worth mentioning here that last year we were trashed 8-0 against them so this year I even dared to publicly announce on Twitter that this time it won’t be the same! I was right, but that was a small consolation. We lost 6.5-1.5, the GingerGM (Simon Williams) scoring our only victory (over GM Marc Hebden) and IM Jonathan Hawkins drawing on board 1 against GM Matthew Sadler. Everybody else lost. I ran into some good preparation in an obscure line against GM Romain Edouard, but I thought I was reacting well for the time being. But then something strange happened, as white’s position very rapidly started to deteriorate at move 15 and by move 20 I was practically lost! This is a rare occurence in chess, but it can happen in these hypermodern openings – W seemingly plays sensibly and puts his pieces in the centre when all of a sudden the trend turns against him and he’s run over. I will analyse this game more deeply and will undoubtedly learn much from it!

Everybody reacts differently to set-backs. I have always tried to bounce right back, stronger and more motivated. Now is a time to analyse the mistakes, learn from them, forget them and come back winning. And that’s what I intend to do again.

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